Note to Self, Part 4: Longing for More than Everything.

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It is a good thing to jot down these notes to myself in order that I might remember that which I easily forget; BUT that doesn’t negate the fact that ultimately, not what I say to myself, but what God says about Himself, and me in relation to Himself, is the ultimate safeguard and guide. Not the ultimate, but the only: everything else is a helpful supplement only as far as they point back to the source. Psalm 119:11

As a follow-up to talking about anything that comes between yourself and drawing near to a Holy God, the one who has washed and sanctified you, I will remind you of the forms which this lust may take in your life. I am not trying to prevent you with fix-all solutions to your problems as much as a way for you to “Act the miracle” i.e., work out that which God is working in you. Striving apart from Him you cannot succeed; striving towards the goals of holiness towards which He brings you, you cannot fail.

What are the lusts?

For you as a Christian, lusts could very simply be described thus: Longing for more than everything.

Those of the flesh: the wicked, abominable, and unashamed obsession with passing physical beauty, that which most often allows itself to delight in the lowest filth above higher beauties. When you commit adultery or rape in your heart, it is extremely likely that no one will hear about it. But does that matter? Is the importance of a crime as much its outward effect, or the person against whom the crime is committed? Self will tell you, relying on what is immediate and seen, that the second glance will satisfy you. But the heart will not be satisfied with that–if you allow self the one foothold of double-taking at a girl, your heart will want to push it to the mile mark of lust. It seems so innocent! And yet the very ascendant of our Savior chose to look again. From that grew adultery, an illegitimate pregnancy that could not be covered up, which in turn could only be dealt with by murdering the husband. You know this story, but do you really? Read Psalm 51, you will understand that you cannot keep a close walk with your Father and a pleasant realization of His salvation between your eyes, if you entertain this lust. A man after God’s own heart faltered through it: think not that you will survive. Put it far, far from you. Meditate on the better reality of the once-broken, now-glorified body of your risen Savior.

Remember: every wandering thought is an affront to the Savior’s sufficiency.  More on this here.

   Lust of these eyes: making much of this world and its goods. Its latest diversions, and an inordinate desire for possessions-driven standing among men (having the right technology, right clothes, right body) rather than being absorbed in the Christ-purchased standing we have before God. Seeking acceptance in a world that should hate me. You sub- consciously allow movies, gadgets, clothing, the places you eat, or anything else become a status symbol that defines how you desire others to view you.
   And it is spiritualized. You are given absolutely everything that is necessary for life and godliness, and yet you see outward things, such as external spirituality, proficiency of gifts and talents, or popularity to draw your eyes away from this reality. They become to you as means, so that rather than run to the fountain of Grace, you try to cultivate whatever external thing you think will improve you. But no means, if it is incorrect, can be pursued without the ends themselves being altered. This is why the crucial thing is to remember that your ultimate end is Christ, not being better in whatever your favorite aspect of life may be.
    Remember, every uncaptivated thought is an affront to the Savior’s sufficiency.
   Lust of the mind: entertaining fantasies, on any number of issues or events, all which tend toward my self-advancement or pleasure, rather than thinking on He who needs no aid of the imagination to be glorious. Your imagination is a gift, as is the enormous leisure which you possess as a human in being able to think on just about anything at anytime. But oh how wasted time can be in ridiculous imaginations after something that either isn’t true, isn’t honorable, or both. Phil. 4:8. Or perhaps you travel into your memory, and set your thoughts solely on things which have been once, and you are so easily discontented with being faithful with what God has set before you to do.
   Remember: every wandering thought is an affront to the Savior’s sufficiency. Your God supplies all your needs; His grace is sufficient for you; and in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and yet you take all of this, and discard it to think on things contrary to Him? Not to say we never think about other things; we live on earth and we are intended to be engaged in our lives. But why make God out to be so much less than He really is when we dwell on the things that keep us from Him, especially during our prayers and the worship service. (I will delve more into most crucial aspect in my next and hopefully final note on the subject).
Lusts of the heart: going from object to object seeking something which will satisfy my emotions. This is where the deepest problems lie, and often is the root of the others. This is where you are most vulnerable. Your heart belongs to a King: you simply mustn’t give it away without His consent. And why would you? Is He not enough? or do you feel the need to fill in the seeming gaps in your thought life and your emotions with something that is not yours yo cherish? “The human heart is an idol factory.” and you know as well as anyone.
    A man to whom you listen often, Paul Washer, draws out a plain but curiously elusive truth from Scripture: the Bible tells us to wrestle with Spiritual darkness, to wrestle with the devil himself (Eph. 6:12, James 4:7). This entails heartfelt, deep, harsh spiritual warfare in which most of us have never troubled ourselves to engage. But the curious thing is that when he addresses the sin of “youthful lusts” he gives a simple instruction: “Flee.” Retreat. Turn tail and run (2 Tim. 2:22. Nice number sequence. He follows with some practical instruction on what to pursue which surely have a place). Even though we are to wrestle with Satan himself, the deepest expression of Christian maturity, in regard to these lusts, is a deliberate distance from them.
This seems, perhaps at first, to have application only to the first lust. But it is bears just as much on the last as well. I must cut myself short here…and with the help of another, far more insightful author, will soon take this back up.

Note to Self, Part 3: Lust is….

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(Just so you know, I’m not writing these things to make you believe: that was another story for another time. This is what you do believe, but forget.)

Lust is just that in you which says you have a right to what you think will make you happy. Lust is just theft that doesn’t actually involve grabbing something.

Lust is not just some abstract idea of sexual sin that “other kids” commit; it is an ingrained human emotion, that the Serpent introduced to Eve. It is that which tells you what you see, what is immediate, what is pragmatic, what you subjectively “prefer” will make you happy (this is what lust does; as to what forms it takes, I may have to tell you in another note, depending on how long this one turns out). This is in complete and total opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which tells you the following:

What is seen is temporal, and what is unseen is eternal. The Lord of the universe resides in Eternity, and He created sight, and by necessity must transcend it. Lust hints at what you see, but you cannot get; Christ demands what faith can see, and His promise is surer than the earth which He has created (for the Voice that calls into existence must, of necessity, transcend that which it creates). You’re not holding off of something you see now so you can get what is better tomorrow: this is the difference between time and eternity, not childish terms such as “now and later.” You have to say “No” to that which is seen, to gain the prize of Christ, who must be gazed upon by faith alone until He calls you to Himself or comes back. This is not to say that you must separate yourself from earth and live as though even good fruit of the Garden which God has given is forbidden. It is simply this: you must deny the silly notion that this is all there is, and therefore you must devote yourself (worship) this that you see; and you must assert that what we see in a glass darkly through God’s word will eventually be face to face.

This goes hand in hand with what is “immediate”. Lust  tells you to begin building your Kingdom on earth, comprised of whatever your heart desires. The Gospel is about seeking a city whose builder and maker is God: a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Lust tells you to grab whatever is in front your face, and the Gospel says to look to that which is “ahead”, pressing on towards the mark of the high calling of Christ.

Lust will tell you that which is pragmatic, or seems expedient, will bring you happiness. The Gospel makes no such promises, but it does tell you that the foolishness of the Cross will bring you holiness. God says be “Holy, for I am Holy,” making this, not happiness, our highest end.

Denying self what it immediately wants seems in total opposition to our ideas of what will fix us or make us happy.* Let me just say here, when I talk to you about lust I needn’t publicly tell you what I’m thinking. Unless you are hardening your heart, which is sadly often the case, you will immediately be able to identify the areas where lust is appearing. You are being told this because anything that you lust after, in which you place your confidence, will indeed come between yourself and your Lord. And how, oh how will you be made like Him if you do not draw near to Him? Holiness, our great end, is not achieved by schemes of “do’s” and “don’t’s”, but by drawing near to the noonday blaze of the Sun of Righteousness, a light which will shine on all that is not sanctified unto Him, and a fire which consumes all the dross that is unholiness. Do not think, oh do not think that you can walk with Christ and enjoy what is knowingly clung to through selfishness and hardness of heart. We cannot approach the Sovereign of the universe, who demands holiness of His blood-bought people, without begin changed. If there is lack of change, “unchange” (if you will) relating to your lusts, than you are not close to Him.

Don’t you dare tell me that was a rabbit trail, for I will sum it all up like this: The Gospel is not about immediate happiness, but lasting Holiness (which, just so you know, involves God’s nearness, in which there is fullest joy; you’re not losing anything). Holiness involves-no, is epitomized- in drawing near to a Holy God. Don’t let proud, selfish, unbelieving lust steal that from you.

And finally, we reach the crux of the matter: Lust tells you that the most important thing for you as an individual is what you prefer. This is the most important thing because it is in complete and total opposition to the Gospel, which has nothing to do with your personal preferences. Christ deals with a soul on a personal level (we are all dead at birth, so sorry, you can’t be born into “the right family”) but His dealings place us in a Body that constitutes His Holy Bride, a bride which is not concerned with herself but with Him. This isn’t imbalanced or unfair; the world will tell you to look at relationship from a standpoint of mutual contribution and mutual returns. It raises the objection that it is really unfair that we have to go through life laying aside subjectivism for our Husband. But in reality, we have been joined to the only Being, the One who alone possess objective worth and beauty, because He was perfect in all things before He made her, and He gives her life. But He is also subjectively beautiful, because He took the lowest and the small, and the chief of sinners, and made them His prized, priceless possession that will share in His eternal glory.

Read His book, see what He does for her, and then come and complain to me again about you preferences, if you dare. You are not here for yourself; you’re here for the purpose of making as much of Christ Jesus, the King of ages, the Bright and Morning Star, the Alpha and Omega; the One who has 280 names and descriptions in His autobiography, and they still fail to describe Him, because even they do not have limits.

Lust will tell you that what is expedient in life is: the visible, the immediate, the pragmatic, and what you prefer are all worthy of your thoughts when you pick up your iPhone to see the time early tomorrow morning. the Gospel tells you the Truth.

Now, do you think you have that? Don’t get excited. I want to get back to you on what lust actually turns up as; you might start getting mad at that point.

Anxiousness, Specific Requests & Intercessory Prayer

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* Jacob asked me when he started this new blog if I would write an occasional piece. After months of delay, this will be my first entry.*

Thoughts on Anxiousness, Specific Requests and Intercessory Prayer
by: Les Riley
In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7

A few weeks ago I did a short study on the subject of intercessory prayer & specific requests. It is very shocking to study this and see how many BOLD and broad promises the Father makes to us in passages that deal with prayer — things like “if you ask with a mustard seed sized faith and say to this mountain be thrown into the sea, it shall be done
And, over and over again, God says things like “I SHALL” and “it will be done“.
So, we as children may come boldly before the throne of grace with our petitions, our requests, our needs, even our wants, and never have to worry that they are too small or too large or too silly to ask our heavenly Father.

However, I am learning (even today) that a key component of intercessory prayer and any prayer for specific things is that “giving us what we want” is really no where on the radar screen when God responds to our prayers. God gives us what is best for us, what we NEED but don’t have sense enough to ask.
YES, God often gives us what we ask for because He is a kind Father who loves us:
“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be giiven you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. And of which of you that is a father shall his son ask a loaf, and he give him a stone? or a fish, and he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” — Luke 11:9-13
But this is not the primary answer to the heart cries of His children and should not be our primary goal in understanding or practicing prayer for specific needs, wants, and plans.

And prayer for specific things is certainly not attempting to give counsel to the “immortal, invisible ONLY WISE God” who “does all things well” and “according to the counsel of His own will“. The “judge of all the earth” will certainly “do that which is right“..
So WHY pray for for specific things? Because it is our desire and God tells us to (over and over again)

The reason God calls us to intercessory prayer and prayer for specific things is:
1) To increase our faith
2) So that we might better know, understand, and love HIM
3) So that we might learn peace and contentment which can only come through trusting God.

The third of which is why I started with the verses above.
“In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7

These two verses are preceded by the admonition to “rejoice in the Lord always” and followed by another admonition to “think on” good, lovely, and godly things — and by Paul’s boast that he had “learned to be content” with little or with much (thus illustrating the key to having the ability to have peace and to rejoice in the Lord).

But since this entry is about prayer, and what prompted it was wanting to share my thinking on how to/ how not to pray for specific things in light of the laundry list of prayer needs I often have let us examine these helpful verses briefly.

Why does this call to “make our requests known unto God” (who, of course, already knows all our requests and all our motives) begin with the command to “be anxious for noting” rather than
simply saying to “ask in faith” or to “ask in the Name of Jesus” like many other NT passages about prayer?

1) Because James tells us WHY our prayers (seemingly) sometimes go unanswered.
Ye have not because you ask amiss“. This first tells us that God will not answer prayers that go specifically against His revealed will. (which is why a study of how to discern God’s will is so crucial).
But, also, that asking the wrong way/ for the wrong reasons will not give us the desired answer to our prayers.
“Be anxious for nothing, but with thanksgiving . . .” how can we make our requests known from a heart of thankfulness if we are anxious, insecure, and worried?

2) Because anxiousness is the opposite of resting in (trusting?) God.
“Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God, but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To- day; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin: for we are become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end: while it is said, To- day if ye shall hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
For who, when they heard, did provoke? nay, did not all they that came out of Egypt by Moses? And with whom was he displeased forty years? was it not with them that sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that were disobedient? And we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief. Let us fear therefore, lest haply, a promise being left of entering into his rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. . .
There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience.” — Hebrews 3:12-4:1, 4:9-11

Notice, the COMMAND to “labor to enter into His rest” is sandwiched between warnings that not doing so is “disobedience” and rooted in “an evil heart of unbelief”. Which brings up the third reason we are told to not be “anxious” before praying.

3) Because anxiousness is the opposite of faith. Jesus — who promised us that anything we asked in His name, in faith, would be granted — prior to going to the cross gave us the perfect example of the right heart attitude in prayer. “if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but Thy will be done”

Anxiousness and worry are the opposites and the enemies of this level of trust and faith (or even a minuscule measure of it). Anxiousness causes us to instead say “not Thy will, but my will be done”. And, when God does not answer right away, in the way that we want, it feeds this faithlessness and rather than moving us towards “the peace that passes all understanding”, towards rest, and towards contentment.

4) Because anxiousness causes turns our “requests into demands
“. Beyond just being the opposite of faith, and causing us to not have peace. Anxiousness turns the life of prayer and the basis for intercessory prayer and asking for specific things on its head.

Rather than following the pattern and trusting in the promises & goodness of God, we end up completely inverting things.

God says to us of prayer “if you (us) will — then I (God) shall”
Anxiousness turns this test for us into a test for God, where we subtly say “No, if you (God) will give us what we ask for, then I (us) will trust in you.”
Unlike Job, who boasted “though He slay me, yet will I praise Him”, anxiousness causes us to say “I will ask Him not to slay me, and if He doesn’t, then will I praise Him”.

5) Because anxiousness, ultimately, leads to sin. When we get anxious, we begin down a path that will lead to worse and more gross sin that involves/ harms more and more people.

We ask God. Then He doesn’t answer as quickly as we’d like. So, we drag out our own idols and our own wordly wisdom and try them. Then, when that doesn’t we try to “force the issue” through the arm of the flesh. Then, because of the sin of anxiousness, we begin to try to get others to help us and manipulate them.

This making people/ things/ callings into idols and manipulation of them is not always conscious, we often do it without realizing it, but it is sin nonetheless. (like Aaron’s sons trying to manipulate strange fire, in hopes of gaining God’s favor their own way, this is deadly).

All of which, if we do not humble ourselves and repent, will lead us down a path to:
a) mistrust (of God and each other — both giving and getting) rather than faith ;
b) resentment (again, of God and each other) rather than contentment;
c) A root of bitterness (towards God and each other);
and, eventually,
d) either chastisement unto repentance or apostasy.
The final end of this is
e) constant struggle and a focus on everything negative rather than “the peace that passes understanding” and a “thinking on ‘whatsover is pure, lovely, of good report” etc.
And we will never be able to “rejoice” or “be content“.

This sinful, destructive pattern will come to pass when we precede “making our requests known to God” by anxiousness rather than thanksgiving EVEN IF WE ARE RIGHT/ BIBLICAL IN THE THINGS WE ARE ASKING FOR OR WE ARE SIMPLY ASKING GOD TO FULFILL A PROMISE/ CALLING/ VISION HE HAS GIVEN US.

“Ye shall have no other God’s before me”.

If God has given us a calling, a gift, a promise, the discernment to see a particular path, or even laid something/ someone on our hearts to pray for and we grasp it like an idol that we place our hope in, try to protect it from God, worry/ fret over it, instead of laying it on the alter like Abraham did Isaac (the fulfillment of one of God’s promises and the beginnings of everything God would do through Abraham) — God will not answer our prayers; He will not bless our efforts; He will not give us peace; He will chastise us, withhold, and ultimately take our idols and destroy them & us.
But, if we repent & look to Him in faith, He is pleased to restore all the things and even to vastly surpass the previous blessings, more than we could ever hope for or ask.

I hate to admit how often this vicious cycle has been true in my life (and, regrettably, not just in the distant past).

But, I “know whom I have believed in, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed, unto Him against that day.” We can all, therefore, who admit our failure(s) & sins, and cast ourselves yet again on our blessed Redeemer and older Brother who “made one sacrifice  for all” (our sins) and who “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” where He “makes intercession for us”.

Therefore, we let us go before the Father:
a) Beginning with the confession that we have very tiny faith, but that we have great hope in the  object of our faith — great beyond measure.
b) Admitting we have mixed motives and a divided heart on not only everything we do but even in our best prayers
c) Confessing our sins — but then leaving them on the alter, not dwelling on them as if God were a liar and slack in His promises.
d) Asking Him to help our weak faith, our anxiousness, and our lack of thankfulness by working in our hearts and showing us again the greatness and completeness of the work of Christ.

Then we may, “be anxious for nothing, but in all things with thanksgiving, make our requests known to God” — that includes our laundry list that we would publically ask for others to pray for and private things that we could be anxious about and would never share with anyone.

Knowing that He will not only give us the peace and contentment that promised in Philippians 4 — but that if we say to whatever seems like an immovable impossible mountain, will be cast into the sea when we ask in faith and in the Name of Christ.

May He who is able increase our faith, our love for/ unity with each other, and our zeal for His Kingdom.

writing is a muscle…

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The other day I read something to this effect:

Your writing is a muscle. It is strengthened by exercise, and weakened by neglect.

That is good. It draws an ironic similarity between writing, which i love and to which I tried to commit, and exercise, which is very easy for me but from which I tend to shy away. And if your reading this out of fealty to my writing, it should resonate with you. It does for me, because it hits on the very purpose for which this blog was created. I did not think that what I had to say was so necessary in a world filled with books and blogs; I did not think I could be helpful in a way that other sources weren’t. I had the benefit of knowing and speaking to my readers, and that was all. Beyond that, I simply did not wish my love for writing to grow cold through disuse.

So this post comes with all the renewed resolutions to do better that you have grown to mistrust. I do want to perform my writing push-ups, and perhaps even renew the topics on which I have previously promised to continue. But I warn you, that the past drought of content has not come merely through procrastination.

If it were up to me, I would make writing on this site a daily thing…I would make writing poetry a constant thing. But God has seen fit to take away the time for the one and the impulse toward the other…leaving me staring blankly at the screen even late at night drinking strong coffee. If ever I have time to write, it should be now, but nothing flows.

In way, that should be okay…because the heading that rest over this blog, and that rests over my heart as a Believer in Christ. Seeking the Saviour. It’s not about me, or you. An when I say it rests over my heart, I don’t say that to create a spiritual glow about myself. It addresses a longing that resides in your heart, if you are His, and a characteristic that should and will define your life. Why? Not because of our super-spirituality. If we were a tenth as spiritual as we take ourselves to be, we’d turn the world upside down.

This heading of Seeking the Saviour hangs over our lives because of who He is…because He has handed us over to a form of doctrine…because the Holy Spirit has laid hold of us with a scalpel, and removed the gross, stony heart of who we are and what we want, and replaced it with a fleshy heart, that must love the One that rescued it…because we have a loving Father that sees when we cease to seek our Savior, and disciplines those whom He loves….Because He has lavished His love upon us, made us His sons and daughters through legal, justifying, sanctifying, glorifying adoption and therefore the world knows us not because we are not of it.

Tomorrow, we will wake up, seeking a Savior. And every single one of the 7 billion people that inhabit this celestial ball are going to wake up seeking a savior. And our Savior, the only true Savior,  who has down all that I spook of above, and so much more, has set us apart a particular people (not because we are worthy of Him, but He is worthy of us as the seed which He saw and with which He was satisfied)…So we no longer have the option of making functional saviors apart from Him.

What does that have to do with my writing, or lack thereof? Simply that every time I log into WordPress, there exists an active temptation to seek a savior in my writing. To find myself, my identity, in jotting down deep thought, or expressing myself, or in writing poetry. The as your reading the first thing I’ve written in months, except my sober confession that the lack of writing has been in the midst of a period a seeking. Every time I thought I could write. And the name that has been placed on this website is a constant reminder that I do not have the option of making writing my relief, or salvation. God has taken us, and made us Saviour-seekers. God has robbed us of the incentive or ability to find joy apart from fellowship with Him.

This is who we are. Oh that this constraining calling would continue to define everything about us.

Rutherford’s Christian Directory, Part One (oh, hi guys)

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The following few posts (oh, and hey guys) are excerpts from a letter which Samuel Rutherford wrote while in prison. They are far better than anything the author speaking could arrange, so they serve as a worthy placeholder for me while I work on new content. I’ve taken a rather long, but intentional break. But whether or not people are benefited by my writing, I won’t to press on for the value of the exercise it is to my mind; I hope, with God’s glory in mind.

I wish I could satisfy your desires, in drawing up and framing for you a Christian Directory. But the learned have done it before me, more judiciously than I can; especially Messrs. Rogers,35 Greenham,36 and Perkins.37 Notwithstanding, I will show you what I would have been at myself although I came always short of my purpose.

1. That hours of the day, less or more time, for the Word and prayer, be given to God, not sparing the twelfth hour or mid-day, although it should then be a shorter time.

2. In the midst of worldly employments there should be some thoughts of sin, judgment, death, and eternity, with a word or two (at least) of ejaculatory prayer to God.

3. To beware of wandering of heart in private prayers.

4. Not to grudge, although you come from prayer without sense of joy. Down casting, sense of guiltiness and hunger are often best for us.

5. That the Lord’s Day, from morning to night, be spent always either in private or public worship.

6. That words be observed, wandering and idle thoughts be avoided, sudden anger and desire of revenge, even of such as persecute the truth, beguarded against; for we often mix our zeal with our own wild-fire.

7. That known, discovered and revealed sins that are against the conscience, be avoided, as most dangerous preparatives to hard- ness of heart.

8. That in dealing with men, faith and truth in covenants and trafficking be regarded; that we deal with all men in sincerity; that conscience be made of idle and lying words; and that our carriage be such as that they who see it may speak honourably of our sweet Master and profession.

These are his direction, which are followed by an illustration of the challenges he faced, which I hope to post soon

What Joys are Ours in the Gospel…

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What joys are ours in the Gospel,
No soul can comprehend
What heights of love are to us given,
No mind can e’er ascend
What praises from our hearts should shine,
That Thou hast made us ever Thine.
What wonder to the Angels,
The Father choosing us
Forming a plan to raise us
To Glory from the dust.
Loving Father, for Thee we pine
Thou hast made us ever Thine.
What joyous acclamation,
The Bosom Son came down
Redeemed us to adoption,
His missing sheep He’s found.
What glories in our face should shine,
Thou hast bought us, we are Thine.
What happiness must fill us
The Spirit sent to earth,
In us He’ll raise the Abba cry
To us He gives rebirth
What glorious peace in this we find
Thou hast made us ever Thine.
What all-consuming wonder,
The Godhead looks on men
He takes the chiefest sinners,
And brings them home to Him
What praises from the church should shine
Grace to us says “thou art Mine”
Oh holy ones in glory,
Oh saints still here below
Let nothing quell thy singing
The gospel ever show
Glorious, holy Trinity
Let us ever worship Thee


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“How refreshing, then, how unspeakably blessed, to lift our eyes above this scene of ruin, and behold One who is Faithful, faithful in in all things, faithful at all times…This Quality is essential to His being, without it He would not be God. For God to be unfaithful would be to act contrary to his nature, which were impossible.”

Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God.

“You may greatly comfort yourself that you have an unchangeable friend in Christ Jesus. Faithfulness is rightly viewed as a most necessary and desirable qualification in a Friend.

“You may learn how excellent His friendship is from His manner of treating His disciples on earth. He graciously treated them as a tender father treats His children, meekly instructing them, most friendly conversing with them, and being ready to pity them, help them, and forgive their infirmities. And then you may considered this doctrine, that he is the same today as He was then, and always will be.”

Jonathan Edwards

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

“Know therefore that the Lord Thy God, He is God, the faithful God.” Deut. 7:9


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If I abase myself before the King of Heaven,

And every time I walk into His sanctuary I am impressed that He doesn’t need me…
And then I look around at my brothers and sisters, and think in my heart how lucky they are to have such a strong saint as I in their midst…
If I offer myself as a servant to the Fatherless, if I pour myself out on the streets, if I am strict to live in accordance with what principles are laid before me….

And then I am frustrated, angered, or annoyed by my surrounding church members who just don’t get it….
Then I know nothing of Calvary love, and am become entirely unacquainted with the barest foundations of the Gospel: no matter how many eloquent words I say, or how many good things I write on my blog, or books I read, or feelings I have.

From almost a year ago. The way in which this was written was in tribute to Amy Carmichael wonderful book of the same title.

Accepting a World that is Better than Fairytales


If asked, it wouldn’t take me long to calculate the time from now until I get a chance to see The Hobbit. One of my favorite pieces of literature is already on my list of favorite films. And I’m still seven months away from seeing it. I have no fears of my confidence being shattered. I am a massive fan of everything Tolkien has written on Middle Earth, and The Lord of the Rings film trilogy remains in the top three positions of my favorite movies of all time. I even recall the last time I was visiting Wheaton, IL -having been given another opportunity to serve a man who has been following his Master for 60 years. But this time around, the height of my ecstasy came when I sat at the very desk on which J.R.R. Tolkien had done most of his writing. Nothing could have animated an ardent lover of the Shire more.

And in the midst of all the enthusiasm that I feel when I engross myself in the world of Middle Earth, the inescapable, overarching reality of that genre of writing tends to slip my mind. The reality is expressed in the word next to the barcode on the book: Fantasy. Nothing about the world I am reading about is real enough to permeate my every day life. While the ideas and beliefs that the writer is imparting through the stories should bear much weight in my “reality”, the stories themselves should have none.

At a formative point in my life, the young men at my church would gather every monday night for discipleship and prayer. It would last two and a half hours on average. In this time, through the umbrella theme of the supremacy of Christ, all areas of life were discussed. My Pastor told us about a time during his college years when he was discovering the beauties of Tolkien. Like myself, he couldn’t get enough of every joy and nuance of elven history and poetry. But he said that at a point, he felt the question posed to him,did he love more the world that Tolkien had invented – with the elves and the hobbits, the rings and the silmarils – or the world that God had made, in which a person could have fellowship with the Trinity through the blood of the Everlasting covenant. That was his story, but we all must ask ourselves the same type of question at some point. Where do we live and in what do we delight: the real, or the Fantasy?

I don’t want to import the idea that I think these types of literature, or films, are bad. Quite the contrary. But there ever remains a danger in we, as humans, allowing our favorite fantasies to become a greater reality than what is real, what is true. It doesn’t have to be Lord of the Rings either. Whatever takes up space in your affections and thought-life beyond what it ought is concerned. It could be the world of functional, fantastic saviors who delight us because they are other than we are, which we find in X-Men or Avengers. It could be Star Wars, your favorite romance novels, or even (if you’re a nerd) Legend of Zelda. 

But more dangerous than these are the little fantasies that our minds are prone to constantly devising: The comfortable friendships with people who see no vice in me: The emotional fulfillment I find in the girl who I think smiled at me: The job  I want, the easy bills to pay, the fully functioning cars; The situation that is better in our minds than the one in which a kind Father has placed us. We all foolishly allow our minds to run to a world where Bilbo is always lucky. Our knowledge of how good stories must end gives us confidence that our fantasies must always end well. But our lack of faith causes us to disbelieve the happily ever after that God will eventually bring us to through all the little pains and crosses of everyday life.

Wanting more -It started with our parents, and has been the downfall of every human heart since. They had absolutely everything that they needed, and more. They were tenders of a garden in which the Creator of all things chose to walk. They couldn’t just say that they had “tasted and seen that the Lord is good.” That was their continual diet. But in the midst of all this, they chose to believe a fantasy that said that things could be better. A fantasy which held forth promises that proved thinner than the figs leaves with which the attempted to shield their shame. The lies they believed ran contrary to everything that they owed to their Creator:

Faith: They owed it to the God that had placed them there to believe what He told them was best at face-value. So we must believe that the world God has put us in, the friends He has given us, the loves He takes away, and the Crosses He bestows, spring out of a heart that brims with eternal love and wisdom.

Obedience. No supposition in the universe is so logical as that creature ought to be subject to it’s Creator. God bound them with double cords in that He was kind and loving. They owed it to Him to obey Him without question. So we owe it to our Creator, Redeemer, and Crowned King to follow His every footstep with confidence that all He orders is for the best.

Love: the hinge on which the human heart turns. They believed a lie, and on that lie they allowed their hearts to stray from the Creator who had told them contrary. But in so doing they turned from the One who was infinitely worthy of all affection.

We cannot afford to waste our hearts on the fake world when we have within our grasp the ultimate standard of what is reality. Every fantasy that we find ourselves enjoying should only make more real in our hearts and lives the Truth that is revealed to us in the word of God. Opening that book, we have the mind of Christ. That ought to make my heart race ten-times more than touching the desk of any Inkling.

“Wrath”: Imago Dei and Unintentional Atheism in Hollywood

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When I rose from my seat after watching “Wrath of the Titans,” the only exclamation I could possibly make was, “That was the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen.” It always speak in hyperbole, but I only remember a few times in my life when I’ve waited so much for a movie to end. Granted, my reasons for going were rather irrational. I had disliked the predecessor. I went in expecting a dazzling display of high-temp special effects and 3D, surrounded by unimpressive storytelling and dialogue. Those low expectations beautifully gratified. The storyline was so bad that I can only think of two equally horrible fantasy movies to compare: this film’s predecessor, Clash of the Titans, and Michael Apted’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Despite the almost non-stop monotone action scenes, the only hint of life came from the gravity with which Liam Neeson and Ralph Feinnes (Zeus and Hades, respectively) uttered goofy lines.

If you saw the previous installment of this series, you’ll be acquainted with the brand of spirituality that it embodies. It isn’t trying to teach Grecian Polytheism the twelve year-olds who might actually enjoy this picture. It seems the entire thrust of the film was more a subversive atheism. Religion is as ridiculous as the well-cast, changeable, whiny deities that flashed across the screen. “The time of the gods is over,” Zeus tells Perseus. (in the unlikely event that audience take the same medicine twice with the same amount of gusto, it won’t really be over). That is the blatant thrust of the film: any god, whether he be a god of war, oceans, hell, wrath, or perhaps mercy and love, is a thing of ancient myth, long time thrown aside by the high intellect of their liberated and superior creation. But even that isn’t really a concept that is portrayed with such skill as to sway someone who has already thought deeply over these issues.

That being said, what this film really embodies is the unintentional that governs successful Hollywood films. It is displayed in what we, as audiences, are fed because of what we want. We have unwittingly, by supporting these films, endorsed an atheistic mentality about art: if God doesn’t exist, or if He has simply left the world to turn on its own; no, going further, if religion and culture are in every way obsolete, if we really are simply products of random chance evolution and not beings that are higher than animals, than what sells in a film is the only important matter. Beauty and moral integrity must necessarily only be sell-points, thrown to the side whenever they are less popular. Good storytelling is no longer relevant to a people that aren’t living out a story, but are simply surviving a monotonous existence.

“Wrath” is only one example. Take a look at the top three films of 2011:

1). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2. The 8th film in a series based on a teen fantasy book.

2) Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The third installment in a series based on a Hasbro toy line. (for the record, it earned an unimpressive 35% on Rotten tomatoes).

3). Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The fourth installment in a series based on a theme park ride. (it earned a 34%).

All of these films were record breakers, earning over a billion dollars each. Not one of them was an Oscar Nominee, let alone winner. And in a way, the very fact that we have Academy Awards reflects in a minute way the image of God that resides in our hearts as humans. In everything that we know as culture, there exist the battle between the sin-born animal tendencies, reflected in the billions poured into the porn industry, the exhalation of youthful beauty over aged wisdom, and the fact the 3D action flicks that bring in so much more than Hugo, and the image of God that demands that we can’t live for nothing. The image that is reflected in the love of mountains more than skyscrapers, that makes a man like Steve Jobs design computers that marry functionality and elegance.

The animal tendencies are never satisfied, They force to sit through b-movie after popcorn flick b-movie, that we know have worthless stories, trying to satisfy the hunger. The image of God is renewed and delivered from bondage only in Christ Jesus. Discovering the beauty of the real Son of God, we are liberated to breathe in the beauty that fills everything that proceeds from His hand.

Apart from Him, we’re left with March sequels that communicate a godless and meaningless world.

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